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Video Game / Body Harvest

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Station Omega: Earth Orbit: 2016. The Earth lies in ruins. Over the past 100 years a vast alien invasion has harvested mankind to the brink of extinction. High above the dead planet, the last survivors hatch a desperate plan to halt the invasion at key points in the Earth's past. A prototype time travel device is ready. It's crew, a team of genetically enhanced super soldiers, is being prepared. But time has run out. The aliens have returned. And they're hungry...
Opening crawl

Body Harvest is a 1998 proto-sandbox game developed by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) and published by Gremlin Interactive and Midway Games for the Nintendo 64. It is a spiritual predecessor to the Grand Theft Auto series.note 

The plot goes as follows: An insectoid alien race has harvested humanity over a period of 100 years starting in 1916, using shields to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the harvested country. The story begins when the aliens try to wipe out the last human survivors on the space station Omega in the year of 2016. The player character, Adam Drake, escapes, but not before being wounded by one of the boarding aliens. He manages to get into the Alpha 1 and is transported to 1916's Greece, where the game starts.

It is quite notable for introducing many of the elements now used in most 3D wide open sandboxes. It is possible to explore the environment at will and do the objectives in non-linear orders. Many vehicles (planes, boats, cars) can be used to explore the land and complete the missions. It isn't quite a sandbox however: the interaction with the environment and NPCS is limited, there are no real side-missions and most of the landscape is unavailable if you don't progress in the plot. Rockstar would later take the ideas introduced here and refine them in Grand Theft Auto III. The rest is history.

This game provides examples of:

  • Aliens Are Bastards: They have wiped out almost the entire human race! To make matters worse, you run into a Grey in Roswell who reveals that they also wiped out his species, meaning that humanity isn't even their first victim.
  • All There in the Manual: The Prima strategy guide contains a very detailed timeline of the game's plot, much more extensive than what the manual's story reveals. According to the guide, the aliens' first recorded attack in modern history was actually in 1891 in Natal Province of South Africa. On top of that, apparently they have been harvesting humanity regularly since the very dawn of human history, as Mayan carvings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and even the freaking Dead Sea Scrolls reveal, and genetic tests of fossil records also reveal the aliens have had a hand in manipulating the DNA of creatures like mammoths and dinosaurs.
  • Alternate History: The game starts out as this. The aliens attack in 1916 in the middle of World War I, and then slowly annihilate mankind by returning once every 25 years to consume entire countries.
  • Artificial Human: The Man in Black was specifically created by the aliens from a drop of Adam's own blood. Although he claims to be Adam's "brother", there was clearly some form of tampering that makes him less than fully human, given how he can absorb the Hive Mind's power without issue. His blood is also green like the other aliens.
  • Bag of Spilling: You lose most of your weapons and items when entering a new time period.
  • BFG: The alien weapons you can wield count as this. You get one per level by collecting three optional weapon crystals.
  • Boss Arena Recovery
  • Brain in a Jar: The Big Bad is the Alien Hivemind, a giant brain floating in a jar deep inside the Alien Comet.
  • Bug War: The Bugs are a hostile alien species inhabiting an artificial comet who return every 25 years to consume entire swaths of humanity. Because of time travel being utilized to undo the attacks, you're fighting with them over a hundred year period, and every new generation of the bugs features new enemy units.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: The last humans in 2016 are on a space station orbiting Earth. The trope itself is presumed to be averted, since the very first thing that happens in the game's intro is the aliens invading the space station and butchering everyone, with only Adam and Daisy escaping.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The only way to save your progress in a level is to destroy the "Processor" alien in each stage. This allows Daisy to send a "Save Beacon" to the Processor's former location and save your progress. Other than that, getting killed in a stage will force you either back to the beginning or the last save beacon. If you plan on playing this game properly, then you better have a lot of free time on your hands.
    • On a positive note, the save beacons allow you to "warp" between them and traverse the gigantic levels more quickly.
  • Cool Shades: The Goliath bugs in level 2.
  • Colony Drop: With their invasion thwarted on four seperate occasions, the aliens decide to try to crash their artificial comet into Earth. Adam thwarts them once again by disabling the engines before they can do so.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Man in Black captures Daisy at some point in the fourth stage and takes her to the Alien Comet to lure Adam into a trap.
  • Defiant to the End: Just before you kill the Hive Mind, it boasts that the aliens will return to consume the Earth's biosphere, and that they will kill you alongside themselves. At this point the aliens have been almost entirely destroyed, their plan to slam their comet into the Earth is twarthed, and are at the mercy of the humans. Just to drive the message home, Adam kills the brain by a mere kick to its container, which shatters it.
  • Downer Beginning: The opening crawl at the top of this page should give you a big hint that things are not good for the human race at the beginning of the game. Earth is in ruins and the only humans left are a small handful on an orbiting space station. Then the bugs come back to finish them off; leaving Adam and Daisy as literally the last two humans in existence.
  • The Dragon: The Man in the Black Suit. Later revealed to be your Evil Twin. He becomes a Dragon Ascendant after you kill the Hive Mind.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Good luck getting access to level four if you've played through the previous three on Easy mode.
  • Event Flag: In the first section of Java, you are supposed to take a lift to get back to your starting point. After completing the primary objective, going to the lift will trigger a jelly alien on the local electricity generator even though it was fine a few seconds before.
  • Evil Evolves: The Bugs invade Earth four times over a hundred-year-period, facing the time-traveling human super soldier Adam Drake five times. In each new time period their forces have mutated to become more developed and stronger than in previous eras despite their failure to harvest enough human DNA.
  • Evil Twin: The Man in the Black Suit. Revealed to be literally your evil twin at the end of the game. The invading aliens sampled a droplet of Adam's blood that was shed during the game's intro sequence, and used it to create a perfect copy of him. Or at least, the fact he bleeds green blood suggests he's not entirely human.
  • Fake Difficulty: Getting stuck in any type of liquid will kill you in a matter of seconds, no exceptions. This is despite Adam being shown to have competent swimming skills. That lake over there? It may as well be filled with acid.
  • Fallen States of America: In the original timeline, the 1966 attack on America was the first time the aliens had ever been caught on live camera conducting their attacks. With their cover blown, the aliens abandon all trace of subtlety (such as the limited harvests they had previously conducted in Greece and Java) and proceed to send massive forces down to Earth and annihilate all of America. In the aftermath, only Alaska is the sole surviving state. And then in the 1991 invasion, Alaska also falls along with dozens of other countries and the two remaining superpowers, the Soviet Union and China, are utterly destroyed as well.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The poor Russian train conductor during Siberia 1 who had been exposed to a dose of the zombie gas leak. He is seen leaning on the wall and sitting almost lifelessly on the floor of his home once you first meet him to get the train starting handle. Once Adam gets the train starting handle downstairs and tries to talk to the train conductor again before exiting, the conductor responds with nothing but groans. Instead of putting the poor man out of his misery (sadly, weapons could never be used indoors), Adam walks out of the conductor's home and leaves him to turn into one of the many zombies wandering throughout that area.
  • Final Boss: After Adam defeats the alien Hive Mind, his black-armored Evil Twin comes back and uses its power to turn into the final boss Tomegetherion.
  • Forced to Watch: As stated in the manual, the aliens' powerful shield walls prevent anyone in the harvest zone from escaping and also keeps anyone outside from saving them, with entire armies trapped outside the walls helplessly watching as everyone inside is brutally harvested.
  • Giant Flyer: Several of the alien insectoid enemies are giant flying monsters, though many can be taken down without too much trouble. The boss of the Siberia stage is the absolutely massive Beelzebub, lord of the flies.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The first major boss, Leviathan, is a giant alien crab with missile launchers.
  • The Greys: A small grey alien is found in Roswell, purportedly the one who had his Alien Autopsy videotaped; he gives you the key to his flying saucer. He's totally unrelated to the Insectoid Alien villains, and even reveals to you that his race was driven to extinction by them.
  • Hive Mind: Revealed to be a Brain in a Jar during the game's final stages.
  • Invisible Wall: Subverted in that the walls are visible Deflector Shields, and one of the goals is to destroy the generator that powers them. Doing so creates a crater that serves as the boss arena, making the walls unnecessary at that point.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: The Hivemind is just another stinking alien to Adam; its servant the Man in Black, who is a clone created from Adam's DNA, is his true enemy.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The intro movie shows Adam suiting up while the aliens are invading the space station.
  • Magical Native American: In the America level Adam meets a shaman at a native reservation who provides him with a Vision Quest that helps him to uncover the aliens' plans.
  • Mission Control: Daisy and the robot who gives you instruction on the map.
  • More Dakka: Particularly noticeable during major boss battles in Alpha 1 and the final stage.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The opening cinematic shows the aliens returning to wipe out the last human survivors on a space station after already harvesting most of humanity. Adam is the only Super-Soldier who manages to escape by a hair's breath and actually use the Time Machine to correct the past.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Subverted. All Adam has to do is stop the aliens in the first location they attack in each time period. This will deny the aliens their human fuel to attack more locations and kill more humans in that period.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When you're just simply wandering around the map or inside a building, the background music is a dark, sad, creepy ambience of pianos and violins. However, when you're battling the bugs the music takes on a more upbeat and militaristic tone. Ironically, the game feels creepier when you're not battling the bugs.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Man In Black uses the Hive Mind's inherited power to transform into Tomegatherion at the end of the game.
  • Opening Scroll: The game starts with an opening scroll explaining the Alien Invasion and Time Travel themes.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: All the bosses are named after mythological monsters and demons: Leviathan, Cerberus, Moloch, Beelzebub, and Tomegatherion.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: When the aliens harvested humanity in the 20th century, they returned once every 25 years when their Comet homeworld is close enough.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • There's a lovely part in one of the America stages where you're in a military base the aliens are trying to terraform. A fast-closing gate blocks your progress at one point, the intended solution being to get a can of nitro fuel and drive a jeep through the gate, the fuel speeding up the jeep just fast enough to make it, but if you can't quite pull that off, take a nimble car onto the high ledges and you'll be able to jump a gap at the edge of the level. You are then able to drive in a flat area the designers clearly intended to be inaccessible. Result: Skip almost the entire level and drive straight to the boss.
    • In the very first level, it's possible to get to the Alien Processor directly by using a motorcycle.
    • In Java stage 4, if you keeping running towards the fence, you can glitch through it to get inside a harbor base without having to have the captain Going Down with the Ship to destroy the alien Barrier in a kamikaze attack.
  • Sand Worm: Some of the aliens in the America stage are giant worms who burrow through the ground throughout the desert level.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Adam and Daisy travel back in time to the recorded alien invasions (1916, 1941, 1966, and 1991), so they can prevent the harvest of the Earth from ever coming true.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns definitely do a number on the giant alien insectoid invaders.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The Bugs' teleporter technology appears as a toxic green cloud before their forces rematerialize.
  • Smooch of Victory: Adam and Daisy embrace each other in a kiss at the end of the game.
  • Stripperiffic: Daisy's revealing outfit, which looks like it came straight out of M├ętal Hurlant. However, since she's Mission Control for most of the game it's not on display that much.
  • Super Drowning Skills:
    • Justified in game. Adam can swim but doing so drains his health very quickly, as the armor he's wearing is too heavy to swim for long periods of time.
    • Also applies to the Alpha tank in level 5, which will get stuck in what is most likely acid and take damage until it explodes... even though it's a hovercraft.
  • Teleportation: The Alien Bugs always beam in to an unexplored location in a green flash of light.
  • Time Machine: The Alpha 1 is capable of opening a time portal that allows the heroes to slowly Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • To Serve Man: The aliens require human tissue to fuel their invasion force.
  • Transformation Horror: In the Siberia level some poor sap is being mutated into a Giant Spider-man hybrid by the aliens. Adam can even talk to him as he's lying helpless on a table.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: The boss battles and the entire last stage takes place in the Alpha 1 vehicle. You can get out of it during the bosses but doing so is an exercise in futility.
  • Universal Driver's License: Pretty much any vehicle that isn't locked or out of gas can be driven (and fuel can be acquired from inside buildings). If it has an engine, Adam can drive it. Be it an old biplane from 1916, a futuristic hovercraft, or anything between.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Alien Comet.
  • Villains Want Mercy: After Adam's Evil Twin changes back to human once his Final Boss form has been defeated, he tries to convince his brother not to kill him. Adam ignores him.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Adam kicks the Brain in a Jar, destroying it, your twin brother appears and transforms into the True Final Boss.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: There are zombies in the Siberia level caused by nuclear radiation.